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Clinical Investigations: COPD |

Maximal Inspiratory Flow Rates in Patients With COPD*

Dan Stănescu, MD, PhD; Claude Veriter, MA; Karel P. Van de Woestijne, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Pulmonary Laboratory and Division (Drs. Stănescu and Veriter), Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels; and Laboratorium voor Pneumologie (Dr. Van de Woestijne), Universiteit Ziekenhuis Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.

Correspondence to: Dan Stănescu, MD, PhD, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, avenue Hippocrate, 10, 1200 Bruxelles, Belgium; e-mail: stanescu@pneu.ucl.ac.be



Chest. 2000;118(4):976-980. doi:10.1378/chest.118.4.976
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Published online

Objectives: To assess the relevance of maximal inspiratory flow rates (MIFR) in the assessment of airway obstruction in COPD.

Setting: University teaching hospital.

Participants: Ten consecutive COPD patients (O group; mean[± SD] age, 58.5 ± 8.3 years) and 10 matched healthy subjects (H group; mean age, 58.7 ± 7.4 years).

Measurements: Lung volumes, FEV1, specific airway conductance, single-breath lung diffusing capacity, MIFR, and maximal expiratory flow rates (MEFR).

Results: Mean FEV1/vital capacity (VC) was 74.7% in the H group and 37.8% in the O group (p < 0.001). Total lung capacity was higher (p < 0.001) in the O group compared with the H group. Lung diffusing capacity was less than half in the O group compared with the H group (p < 0.001). MEFR at all lung volumes were lower in the O group (p < 0.001). MIFR were comparable in the two groups, except at 25% inspired VC, where MIFR were lower in the O group (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: MIFR are less sensitive than MEFR to detect airway obstruction in COPD patients. Yet, the interest of MIFR lay in the possibility to separate intrinsic from extrinsic involvement of airways. A normal MIFR associated with low MEFR, as in the present study, suggests either a lack of parenchymal support, an increased collapsibility of the airways, or a reversible peripheral airway narrowing. A fixed, generalized airway narrowing would be associated with a decrease of both MIFR and MEFR.

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